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The Argos Championship Fate Lies With McLeod Bethel-Thompson

The Argos 2021 Season will be defined by what happens this Sunday at BMO Field. But the entire career of McLeod Bethel-Thompson will be defined by how he performs against the Ticats with a berth to the Grey Cup on the line.

Make no mistake; the Argos are not in their position right now, if not for McLeod Bethel-Thompson. This season, the journeyman righted the Boatmen’s ship, leading them to an East division title, came through in clutch situations (see Thanksgiving in Hamilton), and won seven of his nine starts on the pivot.

But… McLeod Bethel-Thompson’s label as a placeholder at the quarterback position will remain if he doesn’t perform well in the most significant spot of his career.

MBT has never been the guy in the pros, even in college. The Argos have afforded him that opportunity in 2021. And McLeod can certainly cement his status as a permanent starter with a victory on Sunday; however, if Bethel-Thompson falls short or performs poorly against Hamilton in the biggest game of his career. There’s no doubt that Toronto will be looking for another answer at the position.

Bethel-Thompson’s age (33) dictates that the Argonauts will be in the market for a quarterback of the future in the offseason. Regardless. But a poor outing on Sunday could direct the Double Blue to seek a better quarterback alternative than McLeod this offseason.

It’s not fair because certainly McLeod Bethel-Thompson, the 7th leading passer in Argos history, has proven himself when called upon. But McLeod is no longer the veteran band-aid on the pivot. He is being entrusted with proving his long-term worth as a starter. A poor performance in the East Final will determine whether McLeod should be in that position moving forward. At least for 2022.

Masoli & MBT Facing Career Defining Moment

The Argos and Ticats have similar situations at quarterback heading into Sunday’s Eastern Final. Both Jeremiah Masoli and McLeod Bethel-Thompson are facing career-defining moments. It’s crazy, but Masoli and Bethel-Thompson are in the same boat even though their respective teams are in contention to win it all.

A poor performance by either quarterback will lead their franchises to regroup and rethink who should be leading them in the future. Masoli, a genuine MOP candidate before the season started, and Bethel-Thompson, the CFL’s leader in passing touchdowns in 2019, and a MOP candidate himself this year might not get a better shot than the one they have right now.

It’s rather fitting considering the strong relationship and history both Masoli and Thompson share.

Jeremiah Masoli and McLeod Bethel-Thompson are two Bay area QBs that have made the long journey from the west coast to southern Ontario. Both taking unlikely paths to the CFL. The two San Francisco signal-callers are very close friends off the field. Both quarterbacks have shown flashes of brilliance in the CFL. But the teams they are on have had doubts about their long-term viability.

<strong>San Francisco 49ers Quarterbacks Jeremiah Masoli Alex Smith Colin Kaepernick McLeod Bethel Thompson<strong>

Masoli has rebounded from poor play and injuries, but there are legitimate questions about whether Dane Evans should be on the pivot instead for Hamilton. A strong performance from Jeremiah in the East Final could silence the doubters. But the opposite could lead to the Ticats moving on from Masoli in the offseason.

As evidenced by last week, when the Alouettes fell short against the Tiger-Cats. The quarterbacks who make the most mistakes will end up being their team’s downfall. (Trevor Harris). Last Sunday, Masoli avoided the mistakes he has made in the past, and his team moved on to fight another day.

The Ticats and Argos want their signal-callers to be the reason they move on to the Grey Cup and, not in spite of them.

The Boatmen have entrusted McLeod Bethel-Thompson to steer their ship. The football club’s championship fate is tied to how he plays this Sunday. And his turn as a starter might be as well.

Argos Eastern Final News & Notes

One player from each of the Canadian Football League (CFL) ‘s nine teams has been nominated for the 2021 Jake Gaudaur Veterans’ Award, which annually recognizes a Canadian CFL player who demonstrates the attributes of Canada’s veterans: strength, perseverance, courage, comradeship, and contribution to Canadian communities.

The award has been presented since 2010 and is named in honour of Jake Gaudaur – a distinguished Second World War veteran and the longest-serving Commissioner in CFL history – who embodied these attributes.

The Toronto Argonauts nominee is RT Jamal Campbell. The CFL released this press statement on Campbell’s nomination.

Toronto Argonauts – Jamal Campbell
Jamal Campbell remains a strong, active, and vocal member of the team despite enduring a season-ending injury. While persevering through a trying recovery, he continues to support the development of his younger teammates. Campbell serves as a mentor and leader to an inexperienced offensive line, imparting some of the knowledge and insights he has garnered over the course of his five years in the CFL. Campbell organized a campaign last winter to support Toronto’s homeless population. He raised $2,500 to fund meal and survival kits, before coordinating a group of friends and teammates to distribute the much-needed meals and supplies throughout the downtown core.

Unfortunately, for the Argos. It doesn’t appear that they will be getting back Jamal Campbell (quad) for the East Final. Trevon Tate will make the start once again against his former team. Tate began the season as Hamilton’s starting left tackle. Tate however didn’t practice on Wednesday due to an arm injury. The ailment doesn’t appear to be serious but the situation is worth monitoring on Thursday and Friday. Veteran OT Thaddeus Coleman started the Argos final game against Edmonton. He was very rusty in his first game action.

Head coach Ryan Dinwiddie told the media yesterday that Toronto will probably have the same starting five on their offensive line that they had against Hamilton on November 12th.

With the possible exception of rookie standout centre Peter Nicastro. The Argos had a walkthrough yesterday but have begun practicing today at Lamport Stadium. Nicastro is going to test his injured knee in practice to see if he can be ready for Sunday.

Like rookie of the year nominee Nicastro, Ryan Dinwiddie, the first-time coach, is also revving up for his first playoff game. The coach of the year candidate is focused on the task at hand and fully realizes that you can’t cheat the process to be great. Sunday’s game with Hamilton will be the first time in Dinwiddie’s coaching career that he has faced off with a team five times in one season.

Dexter McCoil has gotten the green light. McCoil, who has missed the Boatmen’s last few games due to an elbow injury, is raring to go and is willing to risk reinjury because he doesn’t want to miss Sunday’s clash.

Cornerback Jamal Peters is also attempting to get back for the Final. He’s missed several games with a knee injury. Peters plans to wear a knee brace in practice to see if he can play through the injury. Players will pull out all the stops to get on the field when it comes to playing in a game with championship stakes involved.

A lot of the focus from certain circles has been the viability and perceived waning popularity of the Argos in Toronto. The Argos were the toast of the town yesterday as Mayor John Tory announced that December 5th would be Toronto Argos’ day. BMO Field and the team also announced that ticket sales have been opened for the upper deck for Sunday’s game. A sign that ticket sales are going well despite pandemic restrictions in the stadium and that this game figures to draw the largest crowd of the season for Toronto.

There’s no doubt that Hamilton’s faithful has played a part in this recent development, but the misnomer that it will be a 60-40 split on Sunday between Ticat and Double Blue fans is laughable. Argos fans have been the butt of jokes this year by opposing fans. On Sunday afternoon, the devoted members of Double Blue hope to have the last laugh.

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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